Elmore Leonard said: I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''

Sunday, 16 November 2008


When I stated my intention to read and review the latest McKenna, despite my troubled relationship with this author’s previous work, it was suggested that I might end up reading ‘with extra suspicion,’ or ‘looking harder for the wrongness.

Guilty. Despite my protestations, that is exactly what I’m doing. See, I’ve read up to page 71, and - most un-Mckenna like - the hero (Val) and heroine (Tamara) haven’t even met. I mean, sure, Val has inappropriately purloined video footage of Tamara naked, and gotten suitably worked up over it (there should be a drinking game), and there has been some disturbing Skanky-Villain-Sex, and a most satisfying torture/execution of Random Henchman No. 1 (more to follow), and the evil guys (there are two sets of insane villains in this one - neat) are so over the top Eeevil they positively cast the last lot (the child ‘organ pirates’) into the shade.

And yet... and yet, I'm not hooked/ enraged/ cackling with glee and self-hate.

Is it because Val is supposed to be a cold blooded killer, without conscience, personality or desire - an efficient operative - and yet everything he does belies this? Despite constantly reaching for his analytical calm, employing his mental ‘data processing technique,’ Val has so far been jerked around by everyone he's met.

As for Tamara, deadly assassin, seductress and unrepentant badass in previous appearances - well. Tamara has a developmentally challenged adopted daughter, and nightmares of a past in which she had to bury her mother and baby sister. And nightmares, and crying jags. And endlessly long inner dialogues in which she questions her suitability to mother.

It’s been 71 pages and no one has even mentioned any ‘yummy girl juice.’ Could it be... am I disappointed?!?

Actually, no. A little bored, though.


RfP said...

D'oh. That's how you know it's Skanky Villain Sex: there's no yummy girl juice.

Er, I'm semi-serious about that.

Meriam said...

Totally: you just know a Skanky Evil Villain wouldn't appreciate yummy girl juice.

(I've mildly disgusted myself).

Sherry Thomas said...

And did you pay for the book too?!

RfP said...

Sherry, I bet she did! *snorfle*

So Meriam, are you getting any subtext that there *should* be yummy girl juice aflowing in the presence of the Skanky Evil Villain?

What I mean is, McKenna really pushes her "heroes" into villain territory with forced sex and general crazed assholery, and the heroines are supposed to like it. So, does the heroine also like such behavior when it comes from the SkEV? It seems to me that in past books, women who weren't the heroine have liked SkEVy behavior from the SkEV. Perhaps even Tamara liked it, back when she was a walk-on part.

Tumperkin said...

The best skanky villain sex has yummy girl juice too.

Meriam said...

Yes, I paid. And paid.

Tumperkin, do you have textual proof to verify this? In my experience, skanky villains are takers.

It's what separates the heroes from the villains.

Speaking of which: RfP, I just went over our last discussion on this blog, when we discussed how closely the heroes and the villains resemble each other. How innocent I was.

Interestingly, there is less of that in this book, because both villains are extremely repulsive physically (a change: in the past they have been charismatic and handsome). One wants Tam sexually and the other wants to torture her to death - both get close enough to try, and the result is some rather old school sexual degradation and physical punishment of the heroine.

Naturally, Tamar isn't completely helpless... she's about 60% helpless.

RfP said...

"RfP, I just went over our last discussion on this blog, when we discussed how closely the heroes and the villains resemble each other. How innocent I was."

Found it. Oh yes, that was interesting.

So, are we still on opposite sides as to whether McKenna deliberately pushes buttons? I'm even more firmly in the "yes, it's deliberate" camp after reading her novellas--Something Wild (the horrific biker story) and Meltdown (which I thought articulated her motivations). Are you even more in the "no, she's just sick" camp, now you've read more of her than I have? We could fight about it. Cage match, blood spurting, explosions, other fluids spurting, Skanky Evil Villain watching with thumb on the detonator.... Oof, I'm tired already.

Meriam said...

I will re-read Meltdown, if you think it might shed some light on her motivations.

Interesting that McKenna has next to no presence on the web. I wonder if it allows her the freedom to be as "out there" as she is?

The dominant, forceful male is very much her kink - it's in her every book, even the one with Tamara as the heroine. It's weird (to me) that she doesn't want to explore any other dynamic.

Tumperkin said...

No, but I live in hope.

RfP said...

What, Tumper--Ooooooh. Gasp? :)

Meriam, no presence... do you mean on blogs? Her website seems reasonably developed.

Meriam said...

Yes, I meant on blogs. Her website isn't particularly active, though she is good with her new releases/ up-comings. I guess I'm just used to authors blogging so it seems strange when one doesn't.

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